Sunday, January 17, 2016

God Loves Us, And Hopes We Will Love Him Back. #JesusFollowers

Just because you love someone, does that mean you always LIKE them? Did you ever have someone you deeply cared for, who still disappointed you – repeatedly?

This happens in human beings in their relationship with God, too. Jesus assures us that God loves us – all of us; everyone in the entire world.

This echoes down throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and in the words of Jesus.

"For Yahweh is good. His loving kindness endures forever," says the Psalmist, repeatedly (100:5) "God so loved the world," records John. "I have kept my Father’s commandments, and remain in his love," says Jesus.

But while God will always love us, He may still be disappointed in us.

In the same way, a parent may love their children, no matter what, that doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes disappointed by their actions.

And this is the way it is with God. He may love us with the love of a parent, He also has been disappointed with human beings, and sometimes entire cities and entire nations, throughout history.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matt. 23:37) Jesus says, speaking prophetically, of God's desire to bring His people back to Him.

In one story, Jesus says the Prodigal Son who returns to his father after fleeing his home in disobedience is welcomed back because he turned back to him. (Luke 15:11-32)

This teaches us that God is like a parent, always hoping their child turns back, and is waiting for us when we do.

But we cannot use God's unconditional love to force Him to either accept our violent, immoral or hateful actions here in this life, or require Him to grant us eternal life after this mortal life is over. That’s because His salvation is offered to us conditionally, based upon His own standards.

God indeed has many rooms in His home (John 14:10) and like the Prodigal's father's home, they're prepared for us to return. But God tells us, in a sense, it's "My house, my rules."

Some may try to demand our way into God’s house. Some say, "I said a little prayer, and now there’s NO WAY God can deny me entrance!" Or, "It doesn’t matter HOW I act, God must let me into His house." Really?

It would be as if someone’s parents may not want to let their grown child back come back and live in their house – because they are partying late into the night, taking drugs, or endangering their life or the lives of others. God has every right NOT to let us into HIS eternal home.

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to be with Him – in THIS life as well as the next; it’s that we aren’t willing to conform our lives to His rules.

"I'll LIKE God, but I won’t do what He says," some say.

"I'll love God, but I don’t want to be made to feel UNCOMFORTABLE, and rules do that," another might grant. "I want God’s love – but on MY terms."

Still another says, “God should accept whatever I’m doing NOW and give me eternal life LATER, because I believe the right things, and my behavior doesn’t matter to Him.”

The fact is, our behavior does matter. God wishes us to reform when we turn back to Him. Or do we really believe the Prodigal Son continued to live a riotous and reckless life after he returned to his father’s roof?

There are plenty of people who are willing to be saved eternally so long as they have nothing to actually DO to get there. They recoil in HORROR at the thought that God has Moral Standards, and that we might be actually JUDGED by those standards. How UNFAIR of GOD!

But it's perfectly fair. And God’s prophets, right up through Jesus, have warned us of those Standards. And we know EXACTLY what they are. And we know from them that we will indeed be judged by our WORKS, and not our vain professions.

If someone called you from across the country, and said, “I’m walking to your town, and when I get there, I'm going to stay in your house, because I have told all my friends I was going to do that,” you may or may not agree with his assertion, but if you tell them that they can come, if they EARN their way into their house, and begin to act in a good and decent way, what right would they have to get MAD at you?

If you let them in, but only if they promise to obey your "house rules," from where do they get the right to complain?

God, through His chosen spokesman, Jesus, tells us how we must act in order to gain access to God's house – and even how to begin living in his "yard" (God’s Spiritual Kingdom) even now, while we’re still on this Earth-bound journey!

Jesus (as previous Spokesmen have said) tells us we must repent, which means feel sorry for past misdeeds and falling short of God’s standards – which includes loving God with ALL of our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbors JUST AS we love ourselves.

We must obey God’s Commandments, and seek to follow Jesus in ALL of his teachings – because Jesus followed God in ALL things, and said we could do all that he had done.

If we don't believe this is true, then we need to stop following him, because we are liars, not Jesus Followers. (1 John 2:4-6)

When we turn back to God in this way, we are asking God's forgiveness for our past actions. Doing this sincerely will wipe out the memory of these past deeds, and we will move forward "Born Anew," and we are born again, but with a purpose: to continuously live seeking to act in a righteous, obedient and God-like manner, seeking God's will and to build up God's Spiritual Kingdom here on earth.

In this way, we are "at home" with our God already, and we may have higher hopes that we might live in His presence forever.

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